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Inflation jacks up the cost of the 12 Days of Christmas gifts


Seven days from now, many of us will be opening Christmas presents. Hanukkah is underway.

Regardless of what or how you celebrate December holidays, your purchases probably increase this month. And this year, inflation, even though it's abated a bit recently, means you have or will pay more for all those gifts, food, and other festive trimmings of the season.

Every year, PNC financial services issues its Christmas Price Index, or CPI. It measures, using a methodology similar to Uncle Sam's official CPI, or consumer price index, the current costs of the gifts given in the classic holiday song "The Twelve Days of Christmas."

Inflation's Christmas costs: This year's Christmas CPI, PNC's 39th, is up an eye-popping 10.5 percent from 2021. It's the third highest year-over-year increase in the index's history.

"True Loves will need to come up with a record $45,523.27 to buy those 12 perfect gifts this year," said Amanda Agati, chief investment officer for PNC Asset Management Group. "This is a disquieting development for many, as pandemic-related supply chain disruptions and elevated energy and commodity prices continue to impact the cost of goods and services. Despite True Loves' generous intentions, the gifts that make up the PNC CPI are not well-insulated from what is being experienced across the broader economy."

Not well insulated is the nicest euphemism I can think of for a $45,523.27 jump in the annual holiday CPI.

I know few folks might buy multiple golden rings, most of us aren't buying obscure fowl or hiring personal performers or getting our dairy and egg needs delivered directly. But that five-figure and some odd cents increase earns this weekend's By the Numbers recognition.

Unique, costly gifts: You can check out all the verses' 2022 price tags at PNC's interactive website, but here are a few highlights:

  • Cpi-2022-01-partridge_250pxFar out fertilizer prices are a key driver of the 25.8 percent spike in the pear tree that serves as a partridge perch. That plant food saw its price grow by 28.4 percent.
  • Soaring service costs, driven by increased wages and labor costs, is higher than goods inflation in the PNC CPI, much like in the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI. This year, services in the PNC CPI, represented primarily by the performers — 9 dancing ladies up 10 percent; 10 leaping lords up 24.2 percent; 11 pipers up 2.6 percent; and 12 drummers up 2.6 percent — account for a collective 14.5 percent hike, while goods increased just 4.2 percent.
  • Gold rings gained because precious metal has always been a haven for the inflation fearful. That happened again this year, with some investors dashing for store-of-value assets like gold. That pushed the five gold ring prices up a whopping 39.1 percent from 2021. That's the largest percentage jump (apologies to the lords) of the bunch.

The PNC infographic below gives you a visual view of all the 12 Days gifts' prices this year and how much they've increased in 12 months.


Online shopping CPI up, too: In addition to the cost, buying all those 12 Days will take a lot of time to collect, since you can't pick all of them up at the local shopping center. This is where online buying could come in handy. But it will cost you even more.

The total CPI for the goods and services if purchased off internet sites is $49,663.73. That's up 8.9 percent from last year's online price Christmas CPI.

In dollars, you'll pay $4,140.46 more for the convenience of digital shopping. Shipping costs are a factor in the higher online purchase prices, especially when you're asking for home delivery of live birds.

And don't forget sales taxes. They're collected by both digital and brick-and-mortar retailers in most states.

Maybe time to revise your list: "While the gifts in this specialty basket of goods and services are truly unique, investors and consumers alike might consider asking their True Love for a different kind of gift this year instead," PNC's Agati suggested.

In case my family and friends are still wondering, I always appreciate cash or gift cards.

Whatever is still on your gift list, good luck finding it as Dec. 25 nears.

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